Chinese tea caddies found on window ledge bring $200,000
A pair of Chinese tea caddies has sold for more than $200,000 in the U.K, after being valued at just $1,200.
The porcelain tea caddies were discovered by an expert from West Sussex auction house Toovey's during a routine valuation visit.
According to reports, the owner had no idea that the caddies held any value, and they had spent the past 40 years sat undisturbed on a window ledge in a family home.
The famille rose enamelled porcelain caddies were made by the Imperial kilns of the Qing Dynasty, which produced some of the most beautiful porcelain works in Chinese history.
Although the rectangular shape of the caddies was most often associated with items made for the export market, the decoration of blossoming branches, flowering stems, lotus flowers and scrolling tendrils was typically Chinese in taste, making them a rare find.
Despite having no specific markings which officially identified them as Qing Dynasty pieces, the style and design were enough for the auction house to value them at around £1,000 ($1,200), a slightly low estimate due to minor damage and their missing covers.
However, as soon as the caddies hit the auction block a bidding war ensued, and it became clear that the original valuation was more than a little conservative.
As bids flew in from collectors in the Far East – none of whom had even viewed the caddies up close - the price soared to a remarkable final total of £165,000 ($201,500).
The caddies are the latest in a long line of rare and highly valuable Chinese porcelain works discovered in ordinary British homes.
Just last week a 16th century Ming Dynasty vase was sold at Fellows Auctioneers in Birmingham for more than $1 million – having initially been described as a modern-day copy worth around $1,500.
And 2016 saw equally remarkable sales, as a 200-year-old Chinese hat stand bought as a table lamp in the 1950s sold for more than $720,000; and an 18th century vase sold for 862,186, after it had spent years being used as a doorstop.